Sales of Calungsod dolls help rebuild churches

Young Catholics bid to add to quake relief funds
Sales of Calungsod dolls help rebuild churches

'Pedrito dolls' on sale in the Philippines (photo by Roi Lagarde)

Young Filipino Catholics have started selling limited edition dolls of Saint Pedro Calungsod to help raise funds to renovate dozens of churches damaged by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in the central province of Bohol last week.

April Frances Ortigas of the Catholic group YouthPinoy said it was fitting for Calungsod, a native of the earthquake-hit Visayas region, to “help” in the restoration of the churches.

Revenues from 'Pedrito dolls' of Calungsod, the popular 17th century Filipino saint canonized a year ago, will be added to donations from the general public and the government to rebuild the churches in Bohol and neighboring Cebu.

Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu said that the archdiocese will shoulder the bulk of the costs in rehabilitating ruined old churches because “the government only gives minimally.”

"The people will find a way," he said.

The Heritage Conservation Society has reported 10 churches damaged during the October 15 quake with Bohol’s provincal authorities adding to the list a number of other churches which were partially damaged.

Among those hit were the 16th century Basilica of the Holy Child, the oldest church in the country.

The funding drive comes after the incoming president of the Philippines Bishops' Conference, Socrates Villegas, urged the Catholic Church to focus on helping the needy rather than spending time and money on rebuilding churches.

“If at the point of a calamity [bishops] still think of my building, my church, my diocese… it’s not Christ-like,” he said after the disaster last week.

The earthquake killed 194 people with 12 still missing and more than 650 injured, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

More than 53,000 houses in seven provinces were either totally or partially destroyed by the earthquake. Total damage to buildings and infrastructure has been estimated at more than US$20 million.

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